Jockey Eurico Da Silva guides El Tormenta to victory in the $1,000,000 Ricoh Woodbine Mile for owners Sam Son Farm and trainer Gail Cox.
The Storm Cat line isn’t half as dead as some would have you believe. For instance, on Sunday at the Curragh in Ireland, the Shamardal colt Pinatubo, now unbeaten in five starts, added the Group 1 National Stakes to his record and is one of his sire’s best performers ever. A top-class racehorse, Shamardal has been the brightest beacon on the breeding scene for his sire Giant’s Causeway in Europe.
And on Saturday, Sept. 14, at Woodbine, El Tormenta carried the flag for Storm Cat’s branch of the Northern Dancer line to a brave victory in the G1 Woodbine Mile. The gelding by the excellent Storm Cat sire Stormy Atlantic won the race by a half-length over Got Stormy, who is a G1 winner by Get Stormy, who is a G1 winner by Stormy Atlantic.
So the winner and runner-up were keeping the major prizes all in the family. Bred in Ontario by owner Sam-Son Farm, El Tormenta had won the G2 Connaught Cup in June and was making his second start in a G1 event. The son of Stormy Atlantic is the product of various long-term investments in breeding and racing that began with Sam-Son founder Ernie Samuels.
The two most important decisions regarding El Tormenta came Samuels purchased the Nodouble filly No Class and raced her with particular success as a juvenile, when she was second in the Yearling Sales Stakes and third in the Princess Elizabeth.
The other decision of great import to El Tormenta was the farm’s purchase of shares in the Storm Cat son Stormy Atlantic. Bloodstock adviser Patrick Lawley-Wakelin recalled that “we bought two shares in Stormy Atlantic when he came to stud in Kentucky at Hill ‘n’ Dale. Stormy Atlantic was what we needed because Sam-Son was using Mr. Prospector so much, and I really believed in the horse to such a degree that I also bought a share for R.S. Evans, as well.”
A good racing son of Storm Cat with a first-rate female family, Stormy Atlantic was out of G1 Santa Anita Oaks winner Hail Atlantis (Seattle Slew), and his third dam is champion Moccasin (Nantallah), the dam of seven stakes winners. This is a family that has produced stallions such as Nureyev, Thatch, and Sadler’s Wells.
And it has made a good match for one of the foundation family developed by Sam-Son from their mare No Class.
Trained by James Day, No Class was a stakes-class juvenile with speed and early maturity. Through her latter two seasons on the racetrack, however, No Class proved only an allowance performer. She was a talented racer but nothing like the best of the best. At stud, however, No Class became a producer of much greater note than a cursory reading of her racing record would suggest. The mare, however, was sound, made 29 starts in three seasons, and possessed both class and 2-year-old form that proved most helpful to her offspring.
No Class became the dam of six stakes winners from eight foals, and the best-known of them were G1 winners Sky Classic (Nijinsky) and Always a Classic (Deputy Minister), in addition to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile second Regal Classic (Vice Regent) and champion filly Classy ‘n Smart (Smarten).
The latter was her mother’s daughter as a producer also, getting four stakes winners from nine foals. These included Eclipse Award winner Dance Smartly (Danzig) and leading sire Smart Strike (Mr. Prospector). Of importance to our story, however, was the unraced Seattle Slew mare Seattle Classic.
Although she didn’t make the races, Seattle Classic became the second daughter of Classy ‘n Smart to produce a G1 winner, along with half-sister Dance Smartly. Seattle Classic’s second foal was Hello Seattle (Deputy Minister), who won two of her three starts at 2, including the G1 Mazarine Stakes, and was champion juvenile filly in Canada.
Seattle Classic also produced the stakes winner Sail from Seattle and the stakes-placed Go Classic and Fleet of Foot, all by Gone West (Mr. Prospector). Second in the Ontario Damsel and third in the Whimsical and La Voyageuse, Fleet of Foot produced multiple G3 stakes winner His Race to Win (Stormy Atlantic), as well as the El Prado mare Torreadora, who won a pair of races and earned $116,265.
Sent to stud, the natural mate for her was the sire of her graded stakes-winning half-brother. That has produced the mare’s first stakes winner and graded winner. Torreadora has an unraced 3-year-old full brother to El Tormenta, a yearling filly by Mizzen Mast, and produced a foal of 2019 by the very fast young sire Palace.
This year, the 25-year-old Stormy Atlantic has a half-dozen stakes winners and has accounted for 102 stakes winners to date, according to Jockey Club records.
Frank Mitchell is author of Racehorse Breeding Theories, as well as the book Great Breeders and Their Methods: The Hancocks. In addition to writing the column “Sires and Dams” in Daily Racing Form for nearly 15 years, he has contributed articles to Thoroughbred Daily News, Thoroughbred Times, Thoroughbred Record, International Thoroughbred, and other major publications. In addition, Frank is chief of biomechanics for DataTrack International and is a hands-on caretaker of his own broodmares and foals in Central Kentucky. Check out Frank’s lively Bloodstock in the Bluegrass blog.
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